The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced two partnerships this week in its ongoing fight against COVID-19: America’s Blood Centers, to help collect and distribute convalescent plasma, and InBios International, Inc. to hasten the development of serological tests.
In the case of America’s Blood Centers, the partnership will be one of mutual coordination to get plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients into the bloodstreams of those patients still fighting the disease. Such blood may contain antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — which remains to be determined through clinical trials.
The value of convalescent plasma has been studied in other outbreaks, including COVID-19’s fellow coronaviruses, SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. That value has not been confirmed for every disease studied, however, and BARDA notes that additional studies are necessary to prove its efficacy. That said, preliminary studies out of China have shown to be promising to health experts.
As for InBios, the goal is the development of rapid serological tests capable of identifying asymptomatic or recovered cases of COVID-19. The SCoV-2 Ab Detect Rapid Test, as it is known, is the focus currently, capable of detecting SARS-CoV-2 reactive antibodies in blood samples. Unlike other tests, these blood-based tests hunt for an immune response to the virus itself, meaning that healthcare providers can test those not showing symptoms, or who may have recovered, and find traces of whether they ever had the virus to begin. All it takes is a finger prick.
Reagents, including patient samples, will be acquired by InBios, which will also produce kits to use them. Performance studies will be used to validate the assay design, as required to request Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).